Last week, the smoldering remains of the Democratic party released its Better Deal policy to the public, eyeing upcoming 2018 mid-term elections. The onus of the Better Deal, which is in obvious contrast to the pro-big business attitude of the Trump administration, is to crack down on corporate monopolies and their abuses of economic and political power. Democrats feel that over the past 30 years, growing corporate influence and consolidation has led to reductions in competition, choice for consumers and bargaining power for workers. This Better Deal, they say, would help empower small business and the working class.
Beer Industry: As of 2016, five breweries controlled over 50 percent of global beer production compared to ten companies in 2004. Although there is a burgeoning craft brewery industry, these small businesses are under threat from large legacy brewers that are acquiring their craft competitors or trying to block craft brewers’ access to the marketplace. In the last year, InBev which owns Anheuser-Busch and is the world’s largest beer company, struck a deal to purchase SABMiller, the second largest. The companies have already announced that jobs will be cut as a result of the merger, and the resulting conglomerate will make it even harder for small, local breweries to compete.
Large corporate beverage rollups have dominated the beer industry for decades, so how will the Democrats remedy this situation? Specifically, the Better Deal plan will:
- Prevent big mergers that would harm consumers, workers, and competition.
- Require regulators to review mergers after completion to ensure they continue to promote competition.
- Create a 21st century ‘Trust Buster’ to stop abusive corporate conduct and the exploitation of market power where it already exists
Sounds pretty good, right? Wait, what’s a Trust Buster? We quote the New Republic:
To address industry concentration, the agenda calls for a new entity they’ve nicknamed the “Trust Buster” that would more closely scrutinize proposed mergers between big corporations and review them after they have been completed to ensure they aren’t distorting markets. Much of that focus appears to be on ensuring better prices for consumers, singling out the airline, beer, eyeglass, food, and telecom industries — all of which have consolidated significantly.
Of course, as is customary in our two-party system, opinions raged from love and hate around the internet. CBB does not have an opinion on the Better Deal yet, but we definitely like the idea of craft beer being mentioned as a cornerstone to a competitive and diverse American economy. And, we also love sentiments like this from malt-loving New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who penned an op-ed in last week’s New York Times:
Americans are clamoring for bold changes to our politics and our economy. They feel, rightfully, that both systems are rigged against them, and they made that clear in last year’s election. American families deserve a better deal so that this country works for everyone again, not just the elites and special interests. Today, Democrats will start presenting that better deal to the American people.
We’re excited to hear more.